Amid Multiple Scandals, Is CNN Imploding?

I am astonished.

Over there at CNN – where I hung my contributor’s hat for 2 years (2015-2017) – it amazingly seems as if the place is imploding.

CNN president Jeff Zucker quit this week. The news shocked media outlets around the globe. According to the report, his relationship with CNN Marketing Chief Allison Gollust is what caused it.

The beginning of his letter was this:  

As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years.

In recent years I was able to acknowledge that the relationship had changed. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. It was wrong. Today, as a consequence, I have decided to resign.

A few days have passed from the release of that statement, and it is now quite astonishing to see how much open warfare has flooded the network. How can we explain this all?

To start, I must confess that I do not know the names of most people mentioned in the slew of stories which have followed the Zucker announcement. Full disclosure: I loved – and still love – every one of these people. Jeff Zucker did indeed fire me. We discussed it in detail in The Pages. The American SpectatorWay back in 2017,

Am I mad at that moment? No. Life is busy and life goes on. Jeff Zucker is someone I don’t have any hard feelings for. Both Jeff Gollust and Allison Gollust are people I regret. They were both very nice while I was there. I still like the CNNers with whom I came in contact while I was there.

It is perfectly permissible to now wonder about what’s going on within the network.

It would be a good idea.

Ted Turner (Atlant billboard magnate) created CNN out of nowhere in 1980. It was an innovative idea to have a news network that broadcasts 24/7. Ted Turner created CNN. Here is his explanation as he wrote it in his autobiography/memoirs Ted Call MeFor emphasis, we offer bold printing:

Although I didn’t watch much television, I was able to form strong opinions about CNN. Although local and national news channels seemed to have a similar ‘if you bleed, it leads’ approach to their coverage of disasters, crimes, and murders, I felt that CNN should be more serious and focus on the most important issues. Also, I wanted the news to be presented in an impartial manner. Walter Cronkite was one of those evening anchors who were trying to inject their opinion into the broadcasts. I did not like that. CNN’s news will be the main star on CNN. Not our staff.

And for the longest time, that’s exactly what CNN was: straight news, all day, all night.

This slowly changed over time.

CNN created Crossfire in 1982. It featured two conservatives and two liberals. After running for 23 years, the show was eventually cancelled. The show had only a short second life between 2013 and 2014, when it was cancelled.

It seemed like CNN was moving in an entirely different direction with Jeff Zucker’s arrival. This is because there was less and less factual news and more opinion.

At the same time that Donald Trump arrived on the political scene, the network started to cover the rallies. Kayleigh McEnany and I were hired as reporters. It suffices to state that Kayleigh and I both benefited from our hiring – as Jeff told me at the time, CNN.

Retrospectively, what strikes me is the evolution of CNN’s Trump-era. Kayleigh or I would both be in multi-person panels, and it quickly became everybody against us or Kayleigh. It was great television and Jeff enjoyed it. A good debate is something I have always enjoyed!

The Trump-Zucker relationship started to fall apart as Trump became president and shocked not just CNN, but all liberal media. And as it did, I thought that the fact that Jeff was indeed, politically speaking, a man of the Left, this meant that the increasing dislike of Trump opened the door for an increasingly leftist direction – can you say “Trump-Russia collusion”? – that was more opinion than news for the network. Which is to say, in contrast to Ted Turner’s original vision of a network that was to be a “just the facts” network it was becoming an anti-Trump, seriously left-leaning network.

Chris Cuomo was a decided Trump supporter. He was, however, a committed Jeff Zucker friend and fan. And then came the pandemic. Here’s The New York PostWhat happened next?

Jeff Zucker is out at CNN — for failing to disclose a (consensual) relationship with a subordinate. Which means his crimes against journalism and the network’s viewers will get swept under the rug.

Before all else, his consensual and far less professional relationship with then-Gov Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo.

It was a seething nest of conflicts of interest that also included the gov’s brother, CNN star Chris Cuomo, and Zucker’s paramour, top CNN exec Allison Gollust — also a former communications director for Andrew.

They collided to transform Cuomo in a national and state figure of salvation…before Cuomo was forced out by his own sexual abuses.

Then, incredibly, Andrew Cuomo’s rising star abruptly flamed out amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations combined with his decision to allow senior citizens in nursing homes to be exposed to those with COVID. This combination was fatal for Andrew Cuomo, though his loyal brother Chris worked quietly to rescue him. Chris was suddenly fired after that revelation and the addition of an allegation about Chris’s harassment problems during his previous stint at ABC.

Take note of the second sentence from the Zucker resignation announcement. “As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years.”

It was a clear indication that Chris Cuomo had reacted badly to his boss and friend. The media was flooded with headlines about Chris sueing the network to recover $18 million of unpaid salary. Newsmax:

CNN Talks with Chris Cuomo for $9M Hush Money.

Yow. A further yow moment follows. The Wall Street JournalReports that CNN anchor Jake Tapper stated this to Chris Cuomo in a Washington CNN staff meeting

An outside observer might say, ‘Well, it looks like Chris Cuomo succeeded. He threatened Jeff. Jeff said we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Chris then blew it up. What can we do to get over the perception that this guy is always winning?

And there’s more. It is possible that CNN employees believe Jeff Zucker received a bad deal. They liked him and held great respect for him.

All of these factors combined – fading ratings, internal fighting – lead to the conclusion that the network at the moment is in a complete mess. Imploding in plain sight.

Some people laugh at this. I’m not one of them. All of these are causing too many harm to good, decent people.

But if there’s one thing that’s all too obvious it is that the new management of CNN is going to have to wade in and get a grip on all of this. Eliminate the chaos and end the infighting.

And just maybe get back to what was Ted Turner’s original vision for CNN. These are the facts.

These are the facts.

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